The Australian Workers Union – the union formerly led by Federal Opposition leader, Bill Shorten – has rejected allowing life/risk insurers to help get injured workers back on the job sooner.
The AWU has used a submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services to claim such a move may result in workers being discouraged from accessing the doctors and medical professionals of their choice.
“The AWU is deeply concerned that encouraging greater participation by private sector life insurers in worker rehabilitation will restrict the ability of an injured worker to exercise his or her basic right of choice of doctor/physician,” the submission said.
“The AWU notes that a number of large multinational businesses operating in Australia have established in-house rehabilitation frameworks that discourage workers from choosing a doctor or medical professional that a worker believes is best placed to treat them,” the submission said. “This is a troubling development.”
The submission said AWU members employed in large multinational businesses regularly reported being pressured to use the company’s doctors and in-house rehabilitation providers.
“Choice of doctor is an important human right and provides confidence to all patients, particularly workers who have been injured while at work. These workers should have the choice of who treats them,” it said.
“The AWU is yet to see any actual evidence that the non-choice model provides a better medical outcome for workers. Indeed, our members regularly report that this model results in a less-customised outcome for their rehabilitation.”